Four mature Brushbox trees & one mature Callistemon around the corner were poisoned in this section of Wonga Street. The arrows point to replacement trees.

Four mature Brushbox trees & one mature Callistemon around the corner were poisoned in this section of Wonga Street. The arrows point to replacement trees.

To make the dead tree safe Canterbury Council have removed the branches leaving a tall stump, thereby not rewarding the vandal/s by removing the tree..  Note the replacement tree in the foreground.

To make the dead tree safe Canterbury Council have removed the branches leaving a tall stump, thereby not rewarding the vandal/s by removing the tree.. Note the replacement tree in the foreground.

I’m posting about this because it is the worst example of tree vandalism I have personally seen & because of the great actions by Canterbury Council in response.

I was told of the vandalism in Wonga Street Canterbury, so just out of interest we went to have a look.  I was unprepared for what I saw.  Nine street trees, all mature Brushbox had been poisoned.  Large drill holes were evident in all trees.   It was like the person/people who did this thought – …..hmmm, looks too obvious – so they poisoned other trees on both sides of Wonga Street perhaps to disperse any finger pointing from both the Council & the community.

Who knows why they poisoned these trees.  I don’t like to stress money when talking of trees as they provide many more benefits than money, but when talking about tree vandalism, I think it is worth focusing on property value & profit.

What we do know is that the vandal/s significantly decreased the value of many properties here, though I doubt they realize this.  A lot of people don’t understand that the street tree out front has a big impact on their own property.

A friend who is a Real Estate Agent in the Inner West wrote the following to me recently –

When a buyer looks at a house they also look at the street. Time & time again I hear “I don’t like this street, it’s got no trees.”  Streetscape makes a huge difference to property values.

Wonga Street is a busy road so the trees collected particulate matter & helped purify the air for the houses along here.  The Brushbox trees being mature looked great once. You can tell from looking at the other untouched trees further along the street.  In my opinion Brushbox trees have the ability to turn an ordinary street into something that is grand & that translates into money.

I was very impressed with the signage.  No half measures here.

I was very impressed with the signage. No half measures here.

What Canterbury Council has done deserves praise.  They have attached a sign to all the trees that says in large red letters – “This tree has been vandalized,” or “This tree has been poisoned” & ask people to contact the Council if they have any information.

They did not use nails to attach the signs, instead using a metal tie that makes it very difficult to remove the sign while at the same time protecting the tree.  That the trees are dead or dying & they still took care not to use nails impressed me. It sends a clear message to people about respect & care for trees.

Next, they have not removed the dead or dying trees. I was told by a resident that these signs have been in place for around 3-years.  Another said 12-months or more, but they were new to the area, so I can’t be sure.

If I were to poison a street tree it would be because I wanted it gone.  A few months to one year before it was removed would not concern me.  However, if the tree had signage on it & was to remain insitu for an indeterminate number of years, that would act as a massive deterrent.

Canterbury Council also planted some replacement trees.  It appears that they will not remove the poisoned Brushbox until the new Brushbox trees have established to a decent size.  I love that they planted the same species of tree.

Leaving the ugly vandalized tree insitu & with signage while the new tree grows takes the power back to the Council & removes any reward the vandal may have thought they would be gaining.   I think their approach is excellent. But then again, I am hardline when it comes to community owned trees paid for by the tax-payers dollar.  I do not believe anyone has the right to vandalise public trees & that includes radical pruning to keep the street tree a bonsai.

I imagine those who live in the leafy end of Wonga Street hate to pass these dead & dying trees, but at the same time appreciate that the Council has taken action to ensure that this doesn’t travel the length of the street.  They are the ones who benefited by the shade of the Brushbox over this record-breaking hot summer. They will also benefit by higher property values if they decide to sell.  I know. A Real Estate Agent told me so.

Prominent signage held on by steel ties.

Prominent signage held on by steel ties also gives a message regarding how to treat trees.

The dead trunk remains while a replacement Brushbox tree grows nearby.

The dead trunk remains while a replacement Brushbox tree grows nearby.

It was sad to see some of the trees struggling to recover even though they were riddled with large drill holes.

It was sad to see some of the trees struggling to recover even though they were riddled with large drill holes.

 

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